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Economic Policy Scrutiny Committee Inquiry into the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 November 2019



Economic Policy Scrutiny Committee Inquiry into the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 November 2019

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Tabled paper 1423


Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT




Tabled by Tony Sievers


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Examination of the Bill 29 prohibition order. In such a situation, the owner was legally entitled to own the firearm or item up until the order was served. Once the order is in force, the owner would no longer be able to legally possess the firearm or item. As a matter of fairness, the owner of a legally owned firearm or item should be entitled to sell the firearm or item so that they can recoup the financial value of the firearm or item. The Commissioner would therefore direct the owner to sell or otherwise dispose of the firearm or item under s49ZA(2)(a). The owner would be allowed to sell or dispose of the firearm or item but they could not physically be in possession of it. Any such transaction would be conducted at arms length, generally through a firearms dealer. The above can be distinguished from a situation where a seized or surrendered firearm is identified as being stolen and the lawful owner is identified, or where a firearm seized as the result of a search of a premises under s49W is determined to be lawfully owned by another occupant of the premises and was not acquired, possessed or used in contravention of a firearm prohibition order. In these situations, the lawful owner would still be lawfully entitled to possess their firearm or item. The Commissioner would therefore direct the owner to take possession of the firearm or item under s49ZA(2)(b).42 3.57 In relation to ss (2)(c), NTPOL advised that the intent of this subsection is to provide the Commissioner with the flexibility to avoid firearms and firearm related items being returned to criminals and criminal entities, noting that: There is a demonstrated nexus between the people involved in criminal entities. It is foreseeable and not unreasonable to anticipate that the main targets of firearm prohibition orders, namely person involved with criminal entities, may try to claim rightful possession of firearms that are seized or surrendered in an attempt to return the seized or surrendered firearm or item to circulation between the associates of the criminal entity. Where such concerns are held about the anticipated circulation of a firearm or firearm related item between associates of a criminal entity, discretion is required so that the Commissioner can effectively remove the firearm or item from circulation by disposing of it. Mindful that it is impossible to legislate for every possible situation where the return of a firearm or item may perpetuate firearm related violence, the Bill has therefore provided discretion to the Commissioner for the disposal of firearms and firearm related items. Section 49ZA(2)(c) was drafted following extensive consideration on how to best balance fairness to legitimate owners and ensure sufficient flexibility to achieve the intent of the Bill and remove firearms and firearm related items from those who are deemed to be not fit to possess them.43 3.58 The Committee sought clarification from NTPOL as to how the operation of the Bill would be affected by amending proposed s 49ZA(2) in line with the recommendation proposed by NT Firearms Council and was advised that: The proposal would undermine the intention of the discretion. As stated above, the Commissioner might elect to dispose of a firearm because they are satisfied in that particular situation that the return of the firearm is likely to perpetuate firearm related violence. The Commissioner might have reasons to suspect that the owner would likely sell the firearm to another criminal associate if directed by police under s49ZA(2)(a). Selling the firearm to another criminal associate (who was not subject to a firearm prohibition order) would effectively keep the firearm 42 Northern Territory Police Force, Responses to Written Questions, p. 10, https://parliament.nt.gov.au/committees/EPSC/106-2019#TP 43 Northern Territory Police Force, Responses to Written Questions, pp. 10-11, https://parliament.nt.gov.au/committees/EPSC/106-2019#TP https://parliament.nt.gov.au/committees/EPSC/106-2019#TP https://parliament.nt.gov.au/committees/EPSC/106-2019#TP